Governor bans TikTok from all state-owned technology and networks

RICHMOND — Gov. Glenn Youngkin said Friday he was banning TikTok and other apps owned by a Chinese company from all state-issued technology and networks because of that company’s ties to the country’s Communist party, saying that the apps “pose a threat to national security” by allowing foreign governments to obtain personal information about users.

“No person shall access TikTok or WeChat or any other application developed by ByteDance Limited or Tencent Holdings Limited through Commonwealth owned, operated, or maintained wireless network,” Youngkin’s executive order read. “This applies to all Executive Offices, Secretariat Offices and Executive Branch Agencies under the Virginia Information Technologies Agency.”

All other state agencies not falling under the executive branch of government “shall comply with this directive in the manner which best suits their information technology capability and network security needs,” the order states.

The order disallows any state employee or contractor from downloading TikTok onto state-issued technology, including cell phones and laptops, except for public-safety purposes. Anyone who has downloaded them previously must remove them by Dec. 31.

Access through any Virginia-owned networks, including Wi-Fi, will be blocked by the order.

The order went into effect immediately, and compliance with it must be proven to the administration by Jan. 15, 2023.

TikTok is a short-form video-sharing network known for content such as pranks, dances and stunts, but also contains news and informational information as well. Videos range in length from 15 seconds to 10 minutes,

“TikTok and WeChat data are a channel to the Chinese Communist Party, and their continued presence represents a threat to national security, the intelligence community, and the personal privacy of every single American,” the governor said in a statement accompanying the announcement. “We are taking this step today to secure state government devices and wireless networks from the threat of infiltration and ensure that we safeguard the data and cybersecurity of the state government.”

Youngkin’s action drew praise from one of his Democratic predecessors in the Executive Mansion.

“As a former governor and Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I’m glad to see that Virginia has banned TikTok on government devices,” US Sen. Mark Warner said in a statement. “TikTok has the stamp of approval of the Chinese Communist The party and it poses a serious national security threat due to its data collection practices and its ability to reach and manipulate Americans. I hope to see more states take action to keep our government technology out of the CCP’s reach.”

Virginia becomes the sixth state to ban TikTok from government-owned tech. It joins North and South Dakota, South Carolina, Maryland and Nebraska on that list.

Read the full text of the executive order here.

Bill Atkinson (he/him/his) is an award-winning journalist who covers breaking news, government and politics. Reach him at [email protected] or on Twitter at @BAtkinson_PI.

This article originally appeared on The Progress-Index: Virginia becomes sixth US state to ban TikTok from state-issued tech